We recently paid a visit to the Los Angeles studio of Wrk-Shp, where we spoke with Airi Isoda about making the transition from architecture to fashion and drawing inspiration from unexpected places and materials.
Wrk-Shp is described as “fashion, architecture & everything in between.” Can you expand on what that means?
Our design studio is run by myself and Ryan Upton. I focus on the clothing side and Ryan works as an architect. We come together and collaborate on furniture and home goods, creating a bridge between designing buildings and clothing.
How did you transition from architecture to fashion?
I have a background in architecture – I studied it in college and worked in the industry for a couple of years. During that time, I went to an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Downtown LA called “Skin and Bones: Parallel Practices in Architecture and Fashion”, and it totally changed my perspective on fashion design. It was the first time I realized that I can take what I learned in architecture school and apply it to another creative form. It was a light bulb moment for me. Then soon after, I decided to make the switch!
You like to use hardware supplies and mediums in your work (i.e. concrete). Do you have any favorite materials?
We like to use materials often found in buildings but in smaller scales and unusual poetic moments. We’ve designed canvas bags dipped in house wall paint, and of course, we use wood and steel in our furniture designs. We like to stay true to the inherent properties of the material while finding new ways to use it to fulfill a purpose.
Everything that you create is informed by architecture. So, are you an architect first and fashion designer second, or vice versa, or something else entirely? Can you ever take the architect out of your work?
I love the idea that as architects, we seek beauty in structure, forms, and details. These are things often found in design objects, so we are naturally drawn to creating them ourselves – our eye for things is developed with an architecture lens so it’s hard to take it off!
You recently released your Spring/Summer 2015 collection, which was inspired skate culture.
Our Spring/Summer ’15 collection is inspired by architecture found in skateparks. I recently learned how to skateboard and found the all gray concrete skate parks to be very intriguing and beautiful. The curvature and shapes of ramps, the concept of taking hard surfaces found in urban landscapes and using them in new ways is both artful and a challenge – these thoughts inspired the summer collection.
What’s next for Wrk-Shp?
We are so excited to be expanding our product line – we will be showing our new lighting during Design Week in NYC. Also, some architecture projects on the horizon and collaborations too – can’t wait to share!
Shop Wrk-Shp’s Concrete Hanging Planters at poketo.com, and stop by the Poketo Flagship for select pieces from their SS15 collection.